Dear Dr. Irwin, for most of my teenage & adult life (I'm 33 now) I have dark skin on my underarms. It impairs with my self-esteem and I feel embarrassed to the point that I cannot wear short-sleeve t-shirt anymore. Eventhough I shave & wax, the skin still looks dark. I tried many exfoliants from mechanical (scrub, etc.) to chemical (AHA, Am-Lactin lotion, etc.) but nothing works. I thought that this may be due to my antiperspirant. I don't consider myself sweating excessively, but deodorant alone won't help so I've been using OTC antiperspirant. What's wrong with my skin? I read also that some hormonal/metabolic imbalance can cause this. I'm on my ideal weight and my weight rarely fluctuates since teenager. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot!
Hi Claire – Have you seen a dermatologist about this? Darkening in the armpit area can be caused by a number of things including irritation from shaving or skin care products. Or, if the darkening has a texture change in addition, something called acanthosis nigricans. There are also bacteria that can sometimes cause darkening there. And yes, sometimes even hormonal changes. I think it’s too much to try to sort out on your own so please see a dermatologist as soon as you can! Best, Dr. Irwin